Donald Trump appointing Stephen Bannon is true to form, only furthering the narrow, racist and identity-driven nature of his campaign.
Washington: Donald Trump came on the scene proudly announcing his extremist views, but by handing over his campaign to a leader of the “alt-right,” the Republican candidate has given the white supremacist movement national stage.
Trump’s decision earlier this month to appoint Stephen Bannon as CEO of the presidential campaign shocked many, but it was true to form. He clearly wanted more of what has worked for him so far – whipping up fear and paranoia among the economically marginalised.
Bannon, who was chairman of Breitbart Media before his promotion as Trump’s main man, has been a cheerleader of the openly anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, white supremacist and sexist alt-right movement. It didn’t hurt that he enthusiastically supported Trump’s candidacy even as the more mainstream conservative media peeled off in alarm.
Breitbart News portrayed Trump rallies as white love fests and homages to the “neglected” community. Over the last year, the site has promoted white supremacist groups and denigrated President Barack Obama for importing “more hating Muslims.” Its comment section can be hair-raising.
The coming together of Trump and Bannon should leave no doubt about the true underpinnings of the Republican candidate’s campaign this strange election season – narrow, identity-driven and racist. The two apparently also share an authoritarian streak.
The alt-right movement, which so far has largely existed on the fringes, is a direct assault on traditional conservatism, which it considers a lame response to the needs of the times. Traditional conservatives are “deemed race traitors unwilling to forthrightly defend the interests of white America,” according to The New Republic.
The term alt-right (short for alternative right) was coined by Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a “think tank” devoted to promoting white nationalism.
Spencer has said things like: “There are races who, on average, are going to be superior.” He has described the movement as “an ideology around identity, European identity.” He tries to cloak his racism and sexism in pseudo intellectualism – he claims he wants to discuss “human biological diversity” and “socio-biology”.
Alt-right activists promote the idea of “white genocide,” a claim that immigration is an attempt to decrease the white population in the US. They basically equate white supremacy with not being anti-white. Trump in the past has retweeted rants from white supremacists drawing outrage.
Spencer described Bannon’s appointment in the Trump campaign as a “good thing” for white nationalists. Under Bannon, Breitbart News was solidly anti-immigrant and helped spread alt-right ideas to a wider audience. It acted as a “gateway” for alt-right writers, Spencer told The Daily Beast.
Bannon promoted racist writers, including Jason Richwine, who argued there was a connection between race and IQ, calling him one “one of the smartest brains out there.” The alt-right movement opposes inter-racial mixing and has come out against whites who adopt black children.
One of its online blogs called ‘The Right Stuff’ created a meme on Twitter and other social media to identify Jewish names by surrounding them with parentheses: (((xyz))) to target them for abuse. It is today’s equivalent of marking someone with the yellow Star of David to identify him as Jewish.
Other odious ideas of the movement include a strident anti-feminism bordering on misogyny. Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor at Breitbart News who published a manifesto of the alt-right movement on the website, celebrates his birthday as the “World Patriarchy Day” and thinks “date rape” is a fantasy dreamed up by women.
Known as Milo and “Daddy” to his 200,000 internet followers, he is obnoxious and edgy. He is also a prominent Trump supporter online.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party candidate, rammed into Trump on Thursday, linking him to the worst elements of Spencer’s movement. “The de facto merger between Breitbart and the Trump campaign represents a landmark achievement for this group, a fringe element that has effectively taken over the Republican Party,” she said in Nevada. She linked the movement to “the rising tide of hardline, right-wing nationalism around the world.”
Conservative columnists and media have pushed back against the alt-right proponents. The Federalist called them “a mix of old bigotries and new identity and victimhood politics adapted for the straight white male.”
The alt-right movement exists mostly online – on Reddit, on VDARE.com, American Renaissance, The Daily Stormer – but Trump may have elevated the fringe movement to the next level of consciousness with Bannon’s appointment.